How big is your Brave?

How big is your Brave?  

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”  She also said, “Do at least one thing every day that scares you.”  Eleanor Roosevelt was not one to ignore our human need to be brave.  Bravery.  It calls to us and it asks us to listen.  And to act.  To do that which intimidates us yet still draws our attention, rallies our inner forces, and knits our talents together.  To simply be who we are and to not worry about what others may say or think.  As my wise, wise sissy tells me, “What another person thinks is none of your business.” Truth, Sis.  This is one of the many reasons I appreciate you.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  Do the thing you think you cannot do.”  I strongly suspect that Eleanor was one heck of an advocate.  I surely would want her on my team.

This song (video below) by Sara Bareilles is inspiring to me.  And it is so sweet, too! Firstly, I very much like the concept/quality/action/trait (I don’t know what to call it) of Bravery.  When I act in Bravery, I am stretched in ways that preclude my ego and encourage me to stand up and take a stand.  For others.  For me.  And for those who don’t have a voice.  When I am Brave, I give myself permission to say or do something that might lead to judgment or reprisal . . . but I say or do it anyway because my moral compass is in the driver’s seat.  Being more of an introvert, afterward, I am always a little surprised and shook up that I took a stand without even really thinking about.  It just felt like the right thing to do.

I also like that the video below chose dancing on a public street to symbolize Brave Expression.  Have you ever danced in public when others are looking at you and saying, “Huh?”  Or have you ever been the first one out on the dance floor?  Or do you dance for the security cameras just because they are there?

See, that’s the thing.  Dancing is one of those forms of personal expression that can be intimidating to a lot of people.  I think this is true because dancing taps into a part of our inner soul and allows it a splashy escape to the outside world.  Very few people think that they, themselves, are amazing dancers.  Am I a fantastic dancer?  No, not really.  Do I love dancing?  Yes!  This is why I don’t want to wait for permission and squander some awesome dance music while waiting for someone else to break the ice and get the party started on the dance floor.  I guess I feel that there is a shortage of live-band, dance-worthy music in my life. . . so, as a rule, I’m not going to miss a single second.  It is so fun to dance!

pencil stubClick on the aqua-blue link below for your free journal download.  It is written with the idea of inspiring Brave in your life.  An action of being Brave provides one of life’s rewards that leaves a shadow of inspiration behind.  It doesn’t feel like it stays for very long, but I think that it does.  I believe that being Brave grows us from a deep part within.

Your Amazing Aqua-Blue Journal Prompt:

Your Brave. journaling prompt

[Print this prompt out, 3-hole punch it, and start your journaling binder.   Take the writing journey and listen . . . you can’t get lost when you are following your own heart.  After all, you are the only one who can hear what it has to say.  The only one.  Relax, read, think, feel, listen, write.  Repeat.  And enjoy the journey.  It is a fine one, and one that is perfectly-made just for you, I promise.  Life is meant to be grown.]

Sara Bareilles – Brave

Try Something New: What’s Stopping You?

IMG_3357Is there something that you have been wanting to learn?  To do?  To try just once to see what it would feel like?

Is the Fear of Failure holding you back? Does it feel like a lack of resources is underwhelming your life?  Is there someone in your life who is telling you that you procrastinate and you never finish anything?  Is there a voice in your head that always gives you bad advice?  Don’t start.  You have so much to do around the house.  You have to get up early in the morning. You haven’t done laundry for a week.  The garage is a disaster.

Do you feel like you simply do not have enough time to even think about starting something new?

You make the choice.

Well, there’s bad news and good news.  The bad news:  You don’t have enough time.  The good news: You do have enough time.  You choose which news you want your inner soul to hear.  You choose.

I kept delivering the bad news to my heart, my mind, my hands, my spirit, while forestalling the good news for an unspecific time in the mythical future when “I had more time.”  I was living in a steady hum of constancy that was focusing on everything that wasn’t quite right with my life: playing an elaborate shell game with finances, juggling too many jobs with school and homework, barely keeping up with household chores, and feeling like my life had all the fun sucked out of it by some cosmic vacuum cleaner.  All of this MindSpeak was proving to be so exhausting to my Inner Spirit that I simply stopped trying to inject newness or creativity into my day.

It felt like I was buried by life’s stuff.

I wasn’t merely stuck.  I was buried.  I would find myself paying bills online while listening to a class-assigned podcast while brushing the dog while folding the laundry while feeding the cat.  I was all over the place.  All of this multi-tasking madness. . . until I thought to add a new personal challenge to the day’s mayhem: Try something new every single day.

In the beginning . . .

In the beginning, this challenge verified the bad news –> it was something that felt like an added extra that felt to be overwhelmingly huge and impossible.  My MindSpeak went into hyper-mode: When am I going to have the time to try something new every single day?!  My days already feel like pasta in a pot of water — on constant boil and threatening to spill over onto the clean stove top at any given second.

The Wooden Spoon Trick

IMG_3360But I was so craving Different in my life.  Better.  More centered and mindful.  I remembered reading that if you lay a wooden spoon across a pot of boiling  pasta that it won’t over-boil.  The pasta can boil merrily away with no more messy stove to clean up.  So simple and easy . . . and it works!  This Wooden Spoon trick reminded me that life need not be so overly complicated.  Just try . . . and do . . . and lay the spoon across the pot. And try again.  It is absolutely possible to turn a moment of my day into a gesture of mindfulness.  I can make it happen.  I will make it happen.  I scrawled across the top of the wall-mounted white board in my office with my blue marker: You’ve got this!  Try Something New!  Today!  I mean it!

It has proven to be a bit of an experiment to see how it works.

I originally intended on focusing on one single something new to try for the 30 days — in an effort to create a positive new habit.  My thought: develop some consistency and build some sense of discipline by adding only one thing for an extended period of time.  Like one of those scary-clown jack-in-the-boxes, all sorts of ideas came popping up out of my mind’s Procrastination Department.  Play piano every single day.  Save on gas and ride my scooter to work every single day.  Eat a healthy breakfast every single day.  Work out every single day.  Sort through one box in the garage and get rid of stuff.  Do one or all of these things every single day for 30 days.

What did these things have in common?

But I found that these ideas weren’t working — and they weren’t very inspiring either. And besides, everything that I was thinking of involved fulfilling some obligatory should: be healthier, practice music, save the environment, clean the garage.  All of which are very lovely ideas, but still . . . This challenge was supposed to be fun and invigorating.

As I was casting about for the best way to implement my challenge, I discovered that was working was trying something different, unique, and unexpected every single day.  Examples?  I started piano lessons — and have been pretty disciplined regarding playing everyday.  I went dancing at a casino — great stories as a result of this adventure.  I broke out the new orange-and-white kitchen towels that had been preserved in their pristine state in my kitchen drawer — now brightening my kitchen and thoroughly broken in with the hues of red wine, carrot juice, and tomato sauce.  I introduced myself to a stranger — and we have since become acquaintances.

IMG_3317You get the idea.  I called an old friend just to say hi.  I bought Swiss chard at the vegetable stand.  I wrote a long overdue letter.  I told someone about my current writing project.  I had dinner at a restaurant that I had been wanting to check out.  I took photographs of garbage.  I added kale to my morning smoothie.  I had fun with some color and painted on canvas.  And another new thing for me? I set aside judgment of “what is good” when I was done painting.  I simply valued the experience and the time spent swirling color around.

IMG_3355I started reading my horoscope.  I subscribed to a new-word-of-the-day website.  I started blogging.  I bought three tiny wooden tops, which are proving to create a really relaxing “stop point” during work and study time at my desk.  I spin the tops and, while they are spinning, I do absolutely nothing.  I learned that an absence of activity can feel pretty good.

My Try Something New Challenge has proven to be that magical wooden spoon on the pasta pot.  I not only have enough time to Try Something New, I have plenty of time.  Life’s harried pace has reduced its boil a bit.  Not completely, but a bit, nonetheless.  Nothing is boiling over and making a spilly mess that I have to clean up.

It feels like I have effected change.  Like the motion of the little tops, the vibrational ripples have been spreading.  There have been some really fun and surprising and happy results from being willing to shake things up.   I don’t understand the way that time has expanded, but it has.  What I learned about this personal challenge: The hard part was starting.  The easy part is enjoying the expansive feelings of reward and appreciation.

You’ve got this!

Vision Board 058Would you like to share in this challenge with me?  Is there something new that you have been really wanting to do?

Please, leave a reply and post your One New Thing and share how it is enriching your life.  We all would love to hear about it!

Life is a lively event.  

Try something new, spin some tops, & effect the ripples of happifying change.

What’s stopping you?

Embrace Your Inner Honey Badger & Make Some Mud Balls

Escape your present reality and think like a honey badger.  Every time I watch this BBC documentary clip of the honey badger, I am so inspired by this animal’s persistence.  The honey badger’s focus on escaping the enclosure is nothing short of amazing.  It uses any and every resource it has to get to where it wants to go.  This animal truly is a marvel.  And what a lesson to all of us who doubt or fear or give up or don’t believe that something is possible.  The message straight from the honey badger itself: It is possible.  Just watch the video (4:12) and you will see what I am saying.  It is a hoot!

When I watch this video, I think about my life and about where I want to go.  Where I know I want to be. What I want to accomplish.  I am reminded of that quote by Lewis Carroll, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”  Well, the thing is: I do know . . . and I am expending personal resource: time, energy, creativity, etc.

But still . . . am I using every resource that is available to me?

This honey badger’s tenacity shows me that the answer to my question is Absolutely not.  The thing is: I know that I am capable of so much more.  Perhaps this is what drives the pistons of life’s dissatisfaction or confusion or self-defeat within my inner world.  I know that I have so much more inside of me to create, to offer, to be.  In the video, the honey badger even makes mud balls (!) to stage its escape.  Mud balls . . . an escape prop out of dirt and water.  Maybe I am easily moved, entertained, and inspired, but I find this very inspiring.  This honey badger never ceases to execute the next escape plan with what diminishing resources are available.  It uses ingenuity to make its goal happen, no matter what “tools” are available.

The word escape has so many different connotations.  It can mean that I am escaping from something that isn’t pleasant or that is demoralizing.  Or it can mean that I am experiencing a moment of escape, like the feeling of reveling in the sunshine on that Maui beach . . . but still with life’s root-of-reality reminding me of that which I will be returning to once vacation is over . . . something that isn’t bad but that isn’t all that great either.

Watch the video below (4:12), be inspired, and then click on the aqua-blue link to a fun and inspiring journaling prompt below.  Have fun with the prompt.  It could very well have the power to create a ripple effect into how you choose to live your life.  I wish you the very best of energy with your respective dreams and goals.

pencil stubClick on the aqua-blue link below for today’s journaling prompt: Your Great Escape Plan

Your Great Escape Plan

[Print this prompt out, 3-hole punch it, and add it to your journaling binder.   Take the writing journey and listen . . . you can’t get lost when you are following your own heart.  After all, you are the only one who can hear what it has to say.  The only one.  Relax, read, think, feel, listen, write.  Repeat.  And enjoy the journey.  It is a fine one, and one that is perfectly-made just for you, I promise.  Life is meant to be grown.]

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Your Personality . . . & the Glory of the Choice

Vision Board 058Your personality . . . what is it exactly?  Aside from the usual adjectives of fun or moody or sunny or temperamental or intense or Type A or laid back or . . . what exactly? What does it really mean to be assigned a personality type?

We’ve all pondered the big debate of Nature vs. Nurture . . . how the spark of life is blessed/cursed/or combination-therein by congenital behavior . . . or wait!  Is it actually shaped by environmental and emotional factors?  And then these is all of the vice-versa stuff that leads one to accept and embrace both and then not think much about it.

Fascinating research points to many interesting findings that help us to understand Who We Really Are, our emotional and social intelligence, and our perception of positive and negative influences.  Nature or Nurture?  It is an enormous question that no one can really answer with total authority.  Take the story of the two children — identical twins, actually — standing on the ocean shore.  They are enjoying themselves while the salt water is gently lapping at their toes.  Suddenly, a rogue wave washes over the top of them.  The same wave, the same temperature of water, the same element of surprise.  One of the twins starts to cry and scream and run from the water. The other twin splashes back at the wave while laughing.   While this story would neither withstand nor support the rigors of a research study focused on Nature vs. Nurture, I like it nonetheless.  It gives me pause: Why not laugh?  It’s a heck of a lot more fun than crying and screaming.

And in the midst of all of this wondering and debating and agreeing, I do believe that there is much to be said for the concept of timshelthe Hebrew word for thou mayest.

When I think on topics of this sort, my mind wanders back to a Time of Great Impressionability in my life, and I was reading John Steinbeck’s East of Eden.  What a book!  Well, “the story bit deeply into me,” and Lee’s treatise on timshel has stayed with me all of these curious years later — a testimony to the notion that life is one great impressionable moment after another.

It is my hope that sharing this gem of Steinbeck’s brilliance and wisdom will not act as any sort of spoiler.  The book is brilliant and one worth reading.  Like life, Steinbeck’s writing is intense and provocative and profound.  He writes the sort of story that stays with you throughout the years.  I thank Mr. Steinbeck for opening my eyes, my mind, my heart, my soul, and my sense of wonder to the notion of thou mayest“the glory of the choice.”

Last week, I came across this quite lovely Personality Test online.  I normally don’t click on these tests, expecting some sort of hook to be set before you receive your “results,” but something prompted me to go ahead and try this one.  Before reading any further, go ahead and click on the link and visualize your responses to the prompts.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/juliapugachevsky/this-cube-personality-test-will-absolutely-blow-your-mind?utm_term=.onK9zJNbz&sub=4259074_8744597

All done?

What do you think?  How much of the explanation of your visuals did you feel was accurate?  At the very least, I felt that I was given a sideways glimpse into me — parts of me that are actually true that I generally don’t consciously associate with my “personality.”  I think about Steinbeck’s artistic weaving of timshel into East of Eden . . . and I am reminded that thou mayest carries with it a personal(-ity) responsibility of creative and paradigm-shifting mindfulness that requires daily cultivation, acknowledgement, and celebration on my part.

Personality assessment aside . . . overall, we need not be so hard on ourselves.  I think we sometimes embrace the opinions of  people — people who truly don’t know us — with far too much zeal, and we assign too much authority to the editorializing that is done by others.  We have a proclivity toward jumping into the sinkhole: a morass of self-blame, regret, and guilt that we assign to nature- and nurture-defining personality quirks . . . epic actions that play with our hearts and attempt to define how we choose to forge present moments into future goals and dreams.  Or . . . is this just my personality?

I used to have a quote taped up in every room of my house: Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.  In the midst of one particularly Challenging Time, I was re-reading the quote, and I realized that I needed to make an edit.  I crossed out about to happen and scribbled in happening right now:

Always believe that something wonderful is happening right now.  

The current paradigm of Overwhelm in that moment screeched to a halt, and life felt like it took a gentler curve toward heart-healing and happiness.  When I realized that I had a choice to become someone new on the inside, my whole life shifted.  This epiphany didn’t segue into some neat and tidy story-book ending, but it did nudge me into a new place, such that I could get back into a timshel state of mind: “the glory of the choice.”

toaster ovenI leave you today with the prayer, the wish, the hope, and the thought that today is a good day for you.  A truly good day.  One of gratitude and filled with micro moments that tell you that Now is Now and life is evolving, constantly evolving, as something that is wonderful.  If this moment isn’t all that great, just wait for the next one.  It will be here before you know it — full of promise and full of timshel.  With some refining, life really can be borne from “the glory of the choice:  . . . keeping “the way open.”

Click on the highlighted link below to download today’s free journaling exercise.  Have fun journaling and putting a new spin on perceptions and keeping your way open!

The Glory of the Choice. A Different Spin. journaling prompt

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A reminder that gifts of beauty await when we keep our hearts open.  So lovely.

 

[P.S. Here is the real Spoiler Alert: To read a longer excerpt that discusses timshel in greater detail from East of Eden, click here.  If you are planning to read the book . . . do not click here.]

The Bigger Picture

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I was out walking the beach today at that time of day when the very last winter light is slipping behind the islands across the water.  I spied this last little bit of sunlight hidden away on the beach.  It felt as if the sunlight wanted to linger just a bit longer on this gorgeous winter day.

Sometimes it feels as if my ideas, hopes, and fantastical schemes are sinking beyond unknown horizons along with the sun. But I know that nature has a way of keeping me both humbled and blessed.  There is nothing like solitude and tranquility and beauty to discover and re-discover who I am and what I am capable of and how much I want to be part of the larger whole that brings peace to my part of the world.

On days when the sun is setting and it feels to be a daunting effort to keep on the sunny side, my memory harvests sunsets like this.  Takes it in and tucks it away.   I am reminded to keep sight of the bigger picture.  And to not let go of the beauty that graces every single day.  Every single day.  Like the aperture on my camera, I have the ability to make it very very tiny and block out the essential parts that add to the beauty and to the panorama of Hope that feeds my desire to grow and to contribute.

Every day I pray for a little miracle.  And today this sunset was it.  It reminded me to appreciate the quiet and to still the voices that do not feel to have my better interests at heart.  It reminded me to be in the moment and look to the present — which is my true daily miracle — one heartbeat at a time.

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The Submerged Truth

dancing birds“I slept and dreamt that life was joy.

I awoke and saw that life was service.

I acted and behold, service was joy.”

– Rabindranath Tagore

The other night I dreamt that I had to fly a small, 6-passenger float plane.  I do not have my pilot’s license in waking life, and the same held true in my dream.  I found myself buckled into the pilot’s seat with no clue as to how to fly.

In the dream, I had the responsibility of taking off with a plane load of passengers.  The tails of the floats were riding extremely low in the water; we had a maximum load.  Sitting in the pilot’s seat, I relied on my prior experience as a passenger and lowered the flaps, adjusted the choke, “cleared” the dock, and then pulled back hard on the yoke.

beaver on lakeIn the dream, I was surprised that I acted with such confidence in my capability to fly and that the plane responded perfectly to whatever I did to the instrument panel, the flaps, and the yoke.  Miraculously, the plane’s floats separated themselves from the surface tension of the water, and we were safely in flight.  It was then that I turned to my passenger in the co-pilot seat and said, “The easy part is taking off.  The tricky part will be when it comes time for us to land.”

I woke up and thought about how much of my dream applies to life – how sometimes we are afraid to fly because of our perceived outcomes regarding the inevitable landing.  With that perfect clarity that only dreams can deliver, it occurred to me that I would like to fly without thought of the inevitable landing.

advocacyVirginia Woolf wrote, “Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.”  My experiences have grown me and my dreams have inspired me to step into each day with some form — some resemblance — of my life’s vision.  I rarely check the flight roster for the day’s destination.  Instead, I pull back hard on the throttle and marvel at how wonderfully the plane responds to the thermals that provide air buoyancy.

Every day.  I feel so fortunate that I am alive and that I have the opportunity to laugh and love and live.  I may not know the particulars on how to land, but I have somehow managed to maintain sufficient aerodynamics that keep me in the air.  It all feels like an enormous miracle.  For this, I feel extraordinarily appreciative of the creativity, the generosity, the kindness, the love in my life that inspires me.  I feel so blessed.  toaster oven

 

Old School

Home Security, Old School

Home Security, Old School

Old School.  Oh, how I love old school.

  1. Reading a real ink-and-paper book.
  2. Feeding a wood fire.
  3. Hand knitting a pair of mittens out of leftover balls of yarn.
  4. Smelling wood smoke.
  5. Washing my truck with a bucket and hose in the driveway.
  6. Letting my feet pick out shoes in person, not online.
  7. Taking a shower outdoors using a bucket, a pulley, and a crudely-made tripod.
  8. Eschewing email and walking to someone’s office to see if they can attend a meeting.
  9. Laughing with someone in person.
  10. Reheating leftovers the old-fashioned way: on the stove or in the oven.
  11. Sending a handwritten letter to an old friend.
  12. Walking to the grocery store instead of driving.
  13. Sleeping in an old canvas wall tent.
  14. Listening to music while hearing the sound of a needle on vinyl.
  15. Clacking away on an old Royal typewriter.
  16. Cooking on a woodstove.

All very random things come to mind, and I love this stuff.

I am now voluntarily and consciously and happily amped up on digital options — which I do dearly appreciate.  I enjoy the benefits of having a computer with its backspace key, copy/paste options, and font changes.  My iPhone has command of my attention.  I love being able to text my Sweetheart and loved ones to tell them I love them.  And some days, my longing for Old School or Simpler Times feels to be absurdly archaic.  I have to ask myself, “Would I really trade my fabulous front-load washing machine for the old Maytag with the wringer that ate socks and seized up in the winter?  I know the answer.

usb-typewriterChanges abound at lightning speed and I manage to keep up with the velocity, even when I am not consciously aware of doing so.  It is a bit a miracle, really.  How we swerve and maneuver through this thing called progress and improvement and convenience.  And Life.  I sometimes feel as if I have been thrown a’kilter with my intense desire to corral the slipperiness of time in order to prioritize, accelerate, delegate, procrastinate, designate, expedite, precipitate.  What’s that old Steve  Miller song?  “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ . . . into the future . . . there’s a solution.”  I am thinking, Do something Old School today.